Risotto Milanese is a classic Italian dish originating from Milan, one of our favorite cities in the northern Lombardy region of Italy. This creamy rice dish is made with Arborio rice, saffron, and Parmesan cheese, and is a popular comfort food in Italy and around the world. The dish is often served as a main course or as a side dish, and can be customized with additional ingredients such as vegetables, seafood, or meat. The creamy texture and rich flavor of the risotto make it a satisfying and hearty meal. Here’s a recipe for a classic Risotto Milanese that you can try at home.
- Arborio Rice: Arborio rice is the most commonly used rice for risotto, but you can use other short-grain rice varieties such as Carnaroli or Vialone Nano. These rice varieties have a similar texture to Arborio rice and will produce a creamy and flavorful risotto.
- Saffron: Saffron is a key ingredient in risotto Milanese and adds a distinct flavor and color to the dish. If you don’t have saffron, you can use turmeric or paprika to add a yellow color to the risotto. However, keep in mind that these substitutes will not have the same flavor as saffron.
- Chicken Broth: Chicken broth is used to cook the rice and add flavor to the risotto. If you don’t have chicken broth, you can use vegetable broth or water with added salt. Keep in mind that the flavor of the risotto may be slightly different with these substitutes.
- Parmesan Cheese: Parmesan cheese adds a nutty and salty flavor to the risotto. If you don’t have Parmesan cheese, you can use another hard and flavorful cheese such as Pecorino Romano or Asiago.
- Use high-quality ingredients: Since Risotto Milanese is a simple dish, it’s important to use high-quality ingredients to enhance the flavor of the dish. Use fresh, high-quality Arborio rice, saffron, and Parmesan cheese for the best results.
- Heat the broth: It’s important to heat the broth before adding it to the rice to prevent the temperature of the rice from dropping and ensure the rice cooks evenly.
- Stir frequently: Risotto Milanese requires constant stirring to ensure the rice is cooked evenly and to create a creamy texture. Be sure to stir the rice constantly and add the broth one cup at a time, allowing each cup to be absorbed before adding more.
- Add the saffron correctly: Saffron is a key ingredient in risotto Milanese and should be added correctly to release its flavor and color. Steep the saffron threads in a small amount of hot broth before adding it to the rice to help release the flavor and color.
- Rest before serving: Allow the risotto to rest for a few minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld and the texture to become even creamier.
- 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 4-5 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the chicken broth in a saucepan and keep it on low heat while preparing the risotto.
- In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the finely chopped onion and sauté until it becomes translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the Arborio rice to the saucepan and stir it to coat each grain with the butter and onion mixture. Cook the rice for about 2 minutes or until it starts to become translucent.
- Pour in the white wine and stir until it is absorbed into the rice.
- Add the saffron threads to the saucepan, then add one cup of the heated chicken broth to the rice. Stir frequently until the broth is absorbed by the rice.
- Continue adding the broth to the rice one cup at a time, stirring frequently and allowing each cup to be absorbed before adding the next. Cook the rice for about 18-20 minutes or until it is al dente.
- When the rice is cooked to your desired texture, remove the saucepan from heat and add the grated Parmesan cheese. Stir the cheese into the rice until it is melted and well combined.
- Season the risotto with salt and pepper to taste.
- Allow the risotto to rest for a few minutes before serving it warm. You can garnish with additional grated Parmesan cheese or fresh herbs such as parsley, thyme or rosemary.